Under the sun

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mangal Pandey - The Rising

Where history meets proud folklore, there legends are born

"Thana nana thana nana .......
Sab ne suna re!
Damka bole dum dum
Jaago jaago ab tum...."

Thus starts (and ends) the movie with the imposing presence of an elephant and ARR's rousing "mangal mangal" song to boot. In a way, The Rising is lifted by A.R Rahman, with his songs which you tend to like more when you watch them in the film, and the background score, which is very decent, with hardly any score seeming out of place, unlike some of ARR's RR scores in the past. The makers don't claim 100% adherence to historical facts and have taken the liberty to change certain "events".
The movie starts with the postponment of Mangal Pandey's hanging thanks to the hangman running away. The flashback starts with the rueful Gordon, played by Toby Stevens, lamenting that all this (Mangal's present plight) is because of him.
An important thread in this movie is the friendship between Toby and Aamir - they wrestle each other, drink bhaang and play pranks and "talk". Toby's Hindi is surprisingly good (look who's judging!) but i kind of lost it whenever some of the Brits had to mouth anything in anger. Running in parallel with this personal bonhomie, we see the ugly face of colonial imperialism, of which The East India company was a mere tool. An Indian maid breast-feeding a Brit 'memsaab's' baby, being unable to feed her own baby in the end, the 'poppy' trade and the war against china in the pretext of business, the apartheid existing long before the term was coined are all beautifully showed either visually or in the words of Toby Stevens or Om Puri (the narrator). I whistled when Toby Steven explains the British opium policy and exclaims "And we call it free trade!" - how true even today. All the proponents of free trade and capitalistic imperialism, EAT SHIT!
A good film makes the viewer think, and a great film makes the viewer think AND feel, and i think The Rising is more of the former.
The film shows Mangal Pandey practising untouchability, but the words uttered by an injured Mangal to Gordon in his bed puts everything in context
I thought i was an untouchable after i bit the cartridge, but the truth is we Indians are all untouchables for the British. This struggle is not about the animal fat in the cartridges, it is a struggle for freedom. India is awake, and there is nothing you or i can do to stop them...

Toby and Aamir come up with good performances but in my mind, i couldn't help thinking about thalaivar Kamal Haasan and wondering about Marudhanayagam. How i wish IT were here and now!
Ameesha had nothing much to do, even Geoffrey Boycott's granny could have played that role, well, ok his mom.....
Rani's performance was apt as a naach girl.

There are no long and extravagant war scenes. And whoever said this film was too melodramatic for the Western Audience must have had 8 large rums. Haven't they seen Braveheart? That, was melodrama, and Mangal Pandey certainly did not have any overdose of that. Most of the scenes were rather crisp, and even the few battle scenes shown didn't have the melodramatic sympathy-evoking super slow-mo stuff. That maybe the film's advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it.
I didn't find any special need for that "item" song (again i go back to Hey Ram, where even the item song was seamlessly gelled to the story). Again, a potential Janetesque disaster (averted) for the "items" concerned. ARR's music was also slightly out of place in that song, i felt.
The movie ends with film division type clippings of India's subsequent attainment of freedom. Even before this started, the couple (actually 2 girls and a guy) indulging in some chair shaking activity and yapping in hushed mushie-tone, felt they'd disturbed the audience enough, stood up and walked, totally oblivious to whatever transpired on the screen for 3 hours. Probably they had expected cricket matches, trendy designer clothes and rectangular love stories.

Its a good film, no doubt, call me incorrigible or whatever, but i couldn't help thinking about thalaivar's Hey Ram and Marudh. Some guys have all the luck!


  • I hate Kamal. The lousy fellow ambles along and raises the bar insanely high and now every other filmmaker is ridiculous and naked.
    Nice review, more positive than the other ones I read, but let me detour again:

    btw couldn't Hub for the last teo days. It's not even saying 'down for construction or something'. You ?

    By Anonymous msp, at Tue Aug 23, 11:49:00 PM  

  • Hey Ram is one of the
    best Indian films. I hope Kamal will get some help to finish Marudhanayagam.But he needs
    to watch his weight now!

    By Blogger Jegathpriyan, at Wed Aug 24, 08:35:00 AM  

  • msp,
    Er...is it vanja pugazhchi ani, w.r.t Kamal?
    The Hub is up alright. Maybe its blocked in ur work-place(?)

    Yup, but with work in his hands he's bound to loose weight :)

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Wed Aug 24, 01:06:00 PM  

  • //Er...is it vanja pugazhchi ani, w.r.t Kamal?//
    Pinne ? Uyarvu Navirchi ani dhaan ellarum use panraangale !

    By Anonymous msp, at Wed Aug 24, 02:21:00 PM  

  • msp,
    The Hub's down...other hubbers are also facing this problem....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Wed Aug 24, 04:06:00 PM  

  • The Rising is a misnomer. The plot happens in 1856. It's actually a prologue for 1857. So I was kinda disappointed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Aug 29, 03:42:00 PM  

  • anon,
    Maybe i wasn't disappointed since i had no expectations from the movie by the time i got to see the movie....I must admit, however that its yet another typical Bollywood case of hype-zyaada stuff-kum......

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Aug 29, 03:54:00 PM  

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